Picture the scene: It is just gone 9am and all the team is gathered for the weekly meeting. All except John, that is, who is late yet again! For the third time in a row! Joan can’t believe it. She can’t stand lateness; who does he think he is to keep everyone waiting like this? Her irritation rises and when John finally scuttles into the room she is on the verge of telling him exactly what she thinks…
Not likely to end well, is it? Looking in from the outside it is easy to see that allowing ourselves to be driven by our emotions doesn’t usually lead to the most positive outcomes.
The trouble is that when we are in the midst of life and things are happening around us our natural instinct is to react. Especially if the situation is one that evokes strong feelings in us or we feel under pressure from others, we don’t always stop to consider the bigger picture.
Perhaps it is perfectly reasonable for Joan to be angry with a team member who is showing such inconsiderate behaviour towards his colleagues. But she has some choices in the way she handles the situation. If her anger sets an uncomfortable tone for the whole meeting then maybe, for the greater good of the team and its work, it would better to save her comments for later and have a quiet word with John afterwards. Maybe he has a good reason for being late which he’d rather not share with everyone. Perhaps he is struggling to cope and could do with Joan’s support, not her anger.
I am reminded of the old saying: “Think twice and count to ten before your act.” It is not a bad habit to get into if it helps us to slow down, step back and gain a wider perspective.
So try this. When something happens that upsets you or makes you irritated or angry, try to see the bigger picture before you react. Think about the outcome you would like to achieve in the long run and choose your response accordingly. Bear in mind that even a short emotional outburst can have long-term consequences for your relationships with others.
Over time I think you will discover that things tend to turn out better when we take the long view rather than always reacting to what is directly in front of us.